Increase Resident Retention by Creating a Sense of Community
Value. It’s a term we struggle with as property managers and owners and because we all have a different idea of what factors play a part in resident satisfaction as they evaluate what they’re getting for the money. Based on a new analysis conducted by SatisFacts in conjunction with Ball State University, we now know that the number one factor in a resident’s perception of value is the “Sense of Community” they find on a day-to-day basis.
Increase Resident Retention by Building Connections
Sense of community begins with a resident’s connection with the office team. Think of your favorite restaurant, the one you frequent once a week or more. The servers greet you by name, they ask if you want your usual, they ask how your weekend getaway was that you mentioned last week, they ask if your child is excited for the upcoming school year. Yes, the food is good, but it’s the way the staff makes you feel that has the biggest draw. Especially when you bring along your friend or co-worker and they see how well-known and well-treated you are by the staff. “She must be a VIP,” they think to themselves, and then they make the comment aloud: “Wow, they really know you here.”
Apartment residents are no different. Yes, the community may be nice, but it’s the staff that makes the difference. People don’t leave places. They leave people. And most typically, they leave the people who are in charge. This means better resident retention is based on building better relationships with property management staff.
Three Ways to Cultivate a Sense of Community
While resident events can be a nice-to-have amenity, we all know there is a good percentage of our residents who couldn’t care less who their neighbors are, and the only reason they’d do a fly-by of the monthly resident event would be to load up a plate of food and carry it away to their home. The bigger win is focusing time and energy on the personal interactions between the residents and the staff. Here are some ways to do just that:
1. Make Sure They Know Your Name
Forget you’re even wearing a name tag. Re-introduce yourself. If you think they know your name, but you’re not sure, throw out a comment like, “Well, you know that any time you need anything, you can always call the office and ask for Jen. I’m always happy to help!” People like to feel they have a go-to contact.
2. Use the Resident’s Name, Especially in Front of their Guests
Everyone loves to feel like a VIP. Calling a resident by name in front of their friends or family achieves two things: letting them know you value them as an individual, and demonstrating to that guest that this is how you treat your residents in your community (and feel free to spread the good word!).
3. Follow-up and Follow-through with Maintenance and Service Requests
Don’t be that really nice, but totally flaky friend. If you say you’re going to do something for a resident, do it! It’s the cornerstone of exceptional customer service. Everyone can make promises; surprisingly few can actually keep them. Being dependable reinforces to the resident that you care enough about them to make sure they’re completely taken care of.
Creating a “Sense of Community” begins with the relationships you and your team form with your residents to help them feel like a member, not just a paying customer. And that’s the foundation for creating value and resident satisfaction each and every day.
Image source: iStockphoto